Ebeneezer Onyeagwu, Zenith Bank MD
Zenith Bank MD, Ebenezer Onyeagwu

By Peter Okorie

Zenith Bank Plc , one of the largest financial institutions by assets in the country has defied the prevailing negative economic odds to post a profit before tax (PBT) of N117.05 billion for six months as of June 30, against the N114.12 billion achieved in the comparative period of 2020.

This was stated in the company’s interim report signed by the Company Secretary, Mr. Micheal Otu, and posted on the website of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Ltd. on Friday in Lagos.

According to the result, gross earnings of the Group stood at N345.55 billion for the period under review, as against N346.08 billion reported in the comparative period of 2020.

Also, profit after tax (PAT) grew from N106.11 billion recorded as of June 30, whereas N103.82 billion was posted in the corresponding period of 2020.

The result also showed company’s income tax expense of N10.94 billion for the period under review, against N10.29 billion recorded in 2020.

Also, basic and diluted earnings per share of the bank stood at N3.38 in the period under review, compared with N3.30 recorded in the same period of 2020.

According to the result, the Board of Directors proposed an interim dividend of 30 kobo per share, the same as the 2020.

It explained that the decision would be presented for ratification by the shareholders at the next Annual General Meeting.

The resilience reflected clearly in the bank’s impressive results for the first quarter ended 31st March 2021, with Profit Before Tax (PBT) rising by 4% to N61.0 billion, compared to N58.8 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.

According to the unaudited statement of account presented to the public on Friday, 30th April 2021, Profit After Tax (PAT) also grew by 5% from N50.5 billion in Q1 2020 to N53.1 billion in Q1 2021, despite the challenging macroeconomic environment aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The profitability, the Bank said, was driven by the optimisation of the cost of funds and improvement in non-interest income.

The Bank’s cost of funds reduced significantly from 2.6% in March 2020 to 1.1% in March 2021. This was also reflected in interest expense which dropped by 45% from N32.8 billion to N18.0 billion over the same period. Non-interest income increased by 10% from N46.6 billion to N51.2 billion, driven by growth in credit-related fees and fees on electronic products.

Non-interest income was boosted by the increase in fees and commission income, which resulted from the increased volume of transactions across all the Bank’s channels. Cost of risk dropped from 0.6% in March 2020 to 0.5% in March 2021, which affirms the Bank’s prudent risk management, even as gross loans increased by 2% from N2.92 trillion to N2.98 trillion in Q1 2021.

This, in addition to qualitative customer services have remained the attraction to the bank which has carted away many awards over the years. Analysts believe that Zenith bank has remained unbeatable given its antecedents, drive and focus.

Commenting on the banks’ impressive performance, Managing Director of High Cap Securities Limited, Mr. David Adonri, told Business Hallmark that the management of Zenith Bank has not only continued to be focused but that it has also utilized the advantages of technology and digital incursions to push its operations, especially in this Covid-19 period.

Recently, the bank recorded an addition to its many laurels, emerging the Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria in the World Finance Banking Awards 2021.
According to the July 2021 edition of the World Finance Magazine, the rank was based on individual banks’ ability to adapt to a continually evolving technological environment while maintaining top-class customer relations and bolstering their financial footing amidst the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes barely two weeks after the tier 1 lender emerged as the best lender in the West African sub-region, according to data released by the Banker Magazine, a subsidiary of the Financial Times Group.

Earlier in June, Zenith Bank, for the second consecutive year, was named as the Best Corporate Governance ‘Financial Services’ Africa 2021 by the Ethical Boardroom. The award, which was published in the June 2021 edition of The Ethical Boardroom magazine, was in recognition of the bank’s adherence to global best practices and institutionalization of corporate governance, setting an industry-wide example of best practices in that field.

It has been award and recognition galore for the bank in recent times driven by its track record of excellent performance and commitment to global best practices. Zenith Bank was voted as Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020, Best Bank in Nigeria in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards 2020 and 2021.

Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, and Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the “2020 Top 1000 World Banks” Ranking by The Banker Magazine among many others.

Zenith Bank has been generally adjudged a Corporate Governance compliant bank by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), hence its listing on the Premium Board of the Exchange. The bank continues to sustain this reputation and reappraise its processes to ensure that its business conforms to the highest global standards at all times.

With its core business strategy anchored on People, Technology and Service, the bank leverages robust Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to provide cutting-edge solutions and products through its network of branches and electronic/digital channels to create value for its numerous clientele.